A roadside survey of unlicensed driving in Queensland
Unlicensed driving remains a serious problem in many jurisdictions, and while it does not play a direct causative role in road crashes, it undermines driver licensing systems and is linked to other high risk driving behaviours. Roadside licence check surveys represent the most direct means of estimating the prevalence of unlicensed driving. The current study involved the Queensland Police Service (QPS) checking the licences of 3,112 drivers intercepted at random breath testing operations across Queensland between February and April 2010. Data was matched with official licensing records from Transport and Main Roads (TMR) via the drivers' licence number. In total, 2,833 (91.0%) records were matched, with the majority of the 280 unmatched cases representing international or interstate licence holders or duplicate records (n = 164), leaving 116 unmatched cases. QPS data showed that only one percent (n = 31) of drivers were unlicensed at the time of the survey, although examination of the TMR records revealed that an additional 9 individuals (0.4%) had a current licence sanction but were not identified as unlicensed by QPS. Thus, the combined data indicate that 1.3% (n = 40) of drivers were unlicensed at the time of the survey. Given that some of the unmatched cases could have been unlicensed, this proportion could be as high as 5.01%. The proportion of unlicensed driving in this study is considerably lower than the involvement of unlicensed drivers in fatal and serious injury crashes in Queensland, consistent with other research confirming the crash risk of the group. However, the high number of unmatched records suggest that it is possible the on-road survey may have under-estimated the prevalence of unlicensed driving, so further development of the survey method is recommended.